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Jackal Stone brings elite forces together in Germany

Special operations forces surround the car of a "terrorist" trying to escape during a demonstration at Jackal Stone 14, an exercise hosted by the U.S. Special Operations Command Europe at Baumholder, Germany, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. Forces from 10 nations are taking part in the event in numerous locations in Germany and the Netherlands.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 12, 2014

U.S. special operations forces and partners from nine other countries began a major exercise in Baumholder, Germany, on Friday as part of an effort to forge closer ties between the U.S. and Europe’s most elite fighting forces.

About 900 U.S. special operators and support personnel are taking part in this year’s Jackal Stone, which is among Special Operations Command Europe’s largest exercises.

“As partner nations, we share a commitment to promote peace and stability and seek opportunities to improve our interoperability,” Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Lengyel, SOCEUR commander, said at the start of the exercise. “Jackal Stone 14 provides the opportunity for personnel of all participating nations to engage in realistic and challenging training to build experience, cooperation and teamwork.”

In all, about 1,500 troops are participating in the exercise, which ends Sept. 23. The event, a standard SOCEUR program, involves multinational airborne drills and field training. Training locations in Germany include military facilities at Baumholder, Hohenfels, Grafenwöhr and Spangdalem. Den Helder, a military location in the Netherlands, will also be used.

This year marks the first time Jackal Stone has been held in Germany, said Lt. Col. Nick Sternberg, a SOCEUR spokesman. The goal is to take advantage of the country’s extensive training facilities, including those in Baumholder, where troops on Friday conducted a series of combat skill drills.

Participating countries include the Netherlands, which is co-sponsoring the exercise with the U.S., the Czech Republic, Finland, Great Britain, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Slovenia.

“This exercise helps to prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment,” a SOCEUR news release said.

Exercise scenarios are not related to any real-world events but are designed to “portray realistic and relevant security challenges,” the command said.

While planning for Jackal Stone began nearly a year ago, the training comes amid concern over Russian aggression in Ukraine. In recent months, SOCEUR has increased its training missions across Europe as part of broader efforts by the U.S. and its allies to reassure NATO members in eastern Europe.

Stars and Stripes reporter Michael Abrams contributed to this report.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
 

After capturing a "terrorist," special operations forces speed away from the scene during a demonstration at Jackal Stone 14, an exercise hosted by the U.S. Special Operations Command Europe at Baumholder, Germany, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. Forces from 10 nations are taking part in the event in numerous locations in Germany and the Netherlands.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES